I’m kind of obsessed with productivity tools, and they generally fall into one of two categories: the ones everyone should use and the rest.
It’s our company mission to make must-have tools (viewers, analyzers, exporters) for people who are writing, updating or reviewing project schedules. We live in a niche; we design and deliver productivity software products for a specific group of people.
Some tools have a much broader range. One tool that everyone should use is a text snippet insertion utility. I use TextExpander, and while I don’t know if it’s the best or the worse, I know that I love what it does and how it does it. It works well for me.
The purpose of these tools is pretty simple: you type abbreviations or shorthand, like “fyi”, and the tool will insert a longer set of words, like “for your information”. I set up “b@s” to be my email address — using the first letter of each side of the @ sign. I have dozens of abbreviations now, and for me, it’s like typing in fast motion. Filling out forms is almost fun.
Occasionally, it expands when I don’t want it to, which means I chose an abbreviation that occurs “naturally in the wild,” so to speak. Good abbreviations require creativity and practicality. I tend to use the same three letters in a row like three s’s for Steelray. (You can bet I didn’t type out the entire “Steelray” just then)
You know you love a tool when you miss it the minute you start using a computer without it installed. The tool can be habit-forming, but in this case, it’s a good habit. A tiny little superpower.
There are others in my “must-have” category, and most of them are like TextExpander, in that they do a very specific thing in a very useful way. If you’re not using one, I recommend you take a week and give it a try. It takes a little practice, but it’s worth it.